For the Manipura, the Third Chakra, we’re talking about the vitality and action to move through the world. So First Chakra is to be-to exist, Second Chakra is to flow and feel and Third Chakra is to do-to be able to. A lot of times deficiency in the Third Chakra can result in hopelessness and stuckness. Think about how much of the population doesn’t have the energy to hold their center up right. When you see a lot of people sitting hunched over it’s like a vacancy here (at your center). You also might be familiar with excessive folks that are bit power-hungry or controlling so that there’s this kind of rigidity and stiffness in the center of the body.
This is a really malleable segment of the body. Why I say malleable is there’s a lot of things you can do to work this area and to bring it into balance. So much of fitness, like just regular fitness in America, works with the center. You warm up your extremities and then at some point there is “core work” and they’re asking you to breathe and bring energy to your center. So the majority of the population (I don’t know how many people are actually doing fitness in America) are getting a bit of their Third Chakra balance just by going to the gym or going to some fitness class. Maybe it’s that they come from a more excessive, dominant, power control hungry kind of makeup inside and so actually what they need is a bit more space in there to actually feel a little bit softer, less controlled and less rigid. They might be more prone to do things like go to a meditation class or get a massage.
There is a connection with softness of the tissue and softness of the energy but they’re not one in the same. This was always a little confusing to me when I did my Bodynamics training. Tension, muscle tension, is not quite the same as energetic tension and blockages. You can have someone who appears very soft and not tense at all but underneath the layers of their musculature could be someone who’s just extremely wired and frozen. So it’s not always compatible, but because we’re talking about somatic therapy here (in just doing something to bring things into balance) the Third Chakra is one that can definitely be aided through exercise, somatic experiencing or different kinds of centering that you do with your clients.
You don’t know what it is, they could appear one way but you can’t make an assumption that that’s their internal experience of it. I am constantly curious and amazed at the things that come up when I work one-on-one with people. I can have all this training, assumptions and skills in my bag and then when I check in with them about their experiences (I mean in my mind) I’m like “oh I wasn’t expecting” but I don’t say that. I say “ok let’s stay with that. That’s where your consciousness is trying to open and unlock right now.”
When the Third chakra is balanced you have an awareness of the effect of your actions on others without being overly, I don’t want to say overly concerned, but more like obsessed about people-pleasing basically. So that’s the spectrum; you’re not this power-hungry dictator who is like “I don’t care, I am taking care of me” and your also not like “oh god! I said that thing, I look that way.” It’s a nice delicate balance. You also feel like as much as you know that you really have no control in the creation of spiritual expansiveness, you feel on some level you are in control of at least aspects of your life; that you’ve learned, that you’ve created systems, checks and balances, that you feel in control enough (if that make sense), in control without being controlling.
Other third chakra traits:
-Exemplary leadership skills. This is something I personally know really well from ending up in leadership positions in college and not really wanting to be in them. Thinking “I’m a leader?” and feeling like I had to exert myself to show up that way. I recognized very early in my life how managing people, and managing folk’s expectations, is a really delicate dance between holding your own self leadership and actually directing others or engaging others. If you hold your own self leadership, demonstrate that and invoke curiosity in others about how they can grow into their own leadership, that has proven to be a more effective path of leadership for me personally. But, I’m still very young and early in my leadership and managerial life. It’s been something that got plopped on me early on.
-Practicality, and thinking what’s in it for us all as opposed to what’s in it for me- this is balanced.
-Also, enough willpower to keep yourself regulated and feel in control enough but not so much willpower that you’re working towards some ideal or fantasy of how much you should be doing and activating to the point where you burn out. So Third Chakra is very burnout related also.
I had a client who said he didn’t feel he had any addiction challenges. He felt like his substance usage was under control for him. My opinion of it was different and I had very careful conversations with my mentor of “Okay, well what’s next for him? And who would I recommend that he works with?” I just felt limited in helping without the awareness that he needed help there before any of his other goals could be reached around health and relationships. And it was so interesting, as we’re wrapping up and closing down into our last session this week (of course it was at this point), he then brings up that he feels he smokes too much, he drinks too much, and he recognizes that he binge eats junk food when he’s unhappy. So through our six sessions or so, he’s gotten to that point. Knowing that we were winding down… I had already found some appropriate resources and support for him to move into next for where he was.
But then, he said something really interesting that’s reminding me of the Third Chakra; he said “You know, I feel like I smoke the cigarette or I go out for the drinking or I binge on the junk food (only after doing all this breath work with you and different (awareness) exercise things)… I have this heightened awareness that I’m doing it to fill some sense of void, or to numb out a feeling inside me that feels overwhelming. Its one or the other.”
That, I would say besides trauma affecting the First Chakra, and the Second Chakra being more relational wounds, the Third Chakra plays a really key role in addiction recovery and in folks being actively addicted to things. When we can regulate our own sense of self (our own sense of center) even in the uncomfortable emotions, we don’t feel like we need to either numb them out or stuff them down with something else to fill the uncomfortability.
In Buddhism (I don’t know how many of you study Buddhism, and I’m very surface with those books and things like that.) But one key concept that really helped me, because I was definitely a workaholic and maybe other kinds of addict behavior when I first start doing Kundalini, this idea of the hungry ghost. Have you ever heard of it?
The Hungry Ghost is basically that we all have a ghost within us that can’t be satiated. If we can’t meet that in just our vitality, our soulfulness, our connection to Spirit (I’m trying to do this as universally as possible and not Kundalini wise) that will forever feel like it’s never enough.
Something’s never enough and the Third Chakra is really about enoughness. Even if the outside world is not showing you that you’re enough, on the inside you have that sense of control and balance of power within you that you’re like “this is what it looks like right now, but I know I’m enough.”
And this Hungry Ghost has been my friend for a long time, and so I felt very excited to offer Gabor Maté’s book to this client “In the Realm of the Hungry Ghosts” at the end of our call because he loves books and he loves reading New Age books.
That’s what connected us in the first place. He was a referral from a friend and I was surprised because I don’t feel like I’m an addiction specialist in anyway and that’s what he was presenting to me? But what was the reported need, “he’s looking for a coach.”
I was just so surprised that he came to me, he’s been the third or fourth client in recovery that’s been given to me this year, and it’s just helped me tie together a lot of things! It’s like “okay, this is an area where once it starts to be uncovered (what’s going on), I can really support someone through breathwork.”
Third chakra is breathwork. Third chakra is, like I said, just moving your body, feeling your breath with your fire. We’ll get there in a minute.
– “Can I ask a question”
– “Yes, of course.”
– “About the addiction stuff because I am trying to conceptualize it. So First Chakra is “I am”, Second is “I feel” and Third is “I do”. Is the “I do” in terms of the addiction the compulsive behavior? Is that when it is in excess? Like “I am doing so much to try and fill this lack of self”
– “Could be”
– “Self and Spirit are one so lack of self is lack of spirit. In AA they call it “God shaped hole”. So is “the doing” the excessive doing?
– “It could be both, right? Because it also could be just adding more fuel to a fire that is already burning out of control. When the Chakra is excessive it is controlling, it is possessive, its anxious, working harder, working more. I guess it depends on really what is the substance of choice. For deficiency, too poor self-esteem, powerlessness, passiveness, it can flip flop too.
– “It is two sides of the same coin. So it could be like ‘I do, I take, I find, I consume”
– “I do, I need to do more. And then it could be the numbing out and stuffing down the ‘I can’t.’”
Maybe we’re all in recovery, right?
I mean addictions to devices to everything right? So yeah, I think that that’s just becoming more clear to me, that I HAVE been doing my own recovery work, even though I don’t identify as “an addict” as I understood it more traditionally. And the Third and Fourth chakra are so interrelated…
I don’t know if it’s okay to move on. Does that make sense? Either stuffing it down or adding more fuel to a fire that’s burning out of control. Third chakra is with doing.
Yogi Bhajan says “By the year 2013 the world population will be 7 billion. The change in technology, psychology, and sociology will be huge. The chaos of information in the computer age will make it difficult for people to cope with day-to-day life. The body, the mind and the spirit will have to be organized in a certain way to meet these natural human phenomena. They will need a strong healthy nervous system. They will need mental clarity and the backup of spiritual strength to face the world. We can say with confidence the only way to do this is through yogic techniques by which the Body Mind and Spirit can be enhanced.”
I always get goosebumps when I read that, and that was a perfect segue. I totally related to that because being someone who is from a highly sensitive family (I think you all know my brother’s on the Spectrum). When the computer got introduced into my house and I, always being highly sensitive, noticed that our entire family’s dysregulation got worse.
I was 10 or 11 years old (when did we get those Compaq Presarios?). I remember thinking ‘I hate computers! I hope they all crash and burn!’ I just thought that it made our dysregulated family, highly sensitive family, even worse!!! So when I got to experience Kundalini and then when I heard things like this, like ‘your system won’t be able to handle the technological age unless you do these yoga techniques’ it made sense on so many levels.
Intergenerational we are passing down these nervous systems from grandmother to mother, in the womb. There’s only a certain amount of stress my grandmother could take and my mom was an embryo or an egg in her womb. So all that DNA is getting passed down to me and it’s almost like we’re getting less and less resilient … but the times are asking us to get more and more resilient. So we need something else.
I got to the point where I was like oh my God, there’s such a scarcity mindset and a kind of depressive element amongst health and wellness practitioner, and fellow yoga teachers, that are like ‘Oh we’re all in competition. There isn’t enough for all of us to stay regulated.’ Suddenly, three or four years ago, I was like “I am in competition with no one! I mean, none of us are. We all do such different things and people need this work more and more. Let’s give, let’s support one another, be nice and really highlight people’s individual strengths. Sometimes I think we don’t recognize our own strength until someone else says ‘hey, that’s your specialty, you do that really well.’”
Of course if your Third Chakra is balanced you have more of a sense of self around that.
So moving on and not forgetting the Third Chakra because they’re so intimately connected, and we’ll talk more about the Fourth Chakra next week. You can easily see how those elements of Power and Will are very connected to the excessive and deficiency above it…
We are going to go into the class and I will give you some Third Chakra breath work and mantra. Basically pumping the navel is the whole foundation of Kundalini Yoga. It is the whole foundation of why someone’s energy can change so much from practicing Kundalini Yoga regularly. It engages this Third Chakra in a rhythm. It resets a person’s rhythm and there rhythm is what builds their energy from the inside out. It even builds the next layer, which is the physicality. This then puts together some personality aspects. That is why Kundalini works.
If Kundalini is not for people right now in their development then use other things that create rhythm in this Chakra, or release in this Chakra.